How FMCG challenge testing was transformed with Reshape
As a microbiologist developing preservation strategies for a vast portfolio of personal care products, Matt Rienzo was met with a significant challenge, that many scientists face in the lab - the time-consuming process of challenge-testing various microbes to ensure product safety and longevity. It often became a bottleneck in their product development efforts, especially with an increasing number of projects due to evolving consumer demands. Increasing efficiency and meeting ambitious project targets with a quick turn-around time was a priority. With the introduction of the Reshape Microbiology Platform, the process of challenge testing transformed, leading to unprecedented improvements in their efficiency, data quality, and assay throughput.
72% faster time to result
220 hours gained
"Working with especially fungal pathogens is very challenging for accurate quantification in formulations. Having this process automated has been a huge productivity boost for us and allowed us to run assays 7 days a week without the need for complicated scheduling processes."
Change in the FMCG industry
“Preservation was a lot different 10 years ago - you would just put in a bunch of preservatives and it would kill everything regardless of the formulation. Today, we’ve moved toward more natural, lighter, safer preservatives that don’t just work - it’s dependent on pH, the ingredients, synergistic relationships with surfactants and the preservatives. We look at the level of preservative vs efficacy in terms of dose response as well. Sometimes, more preservative is not better even.”
Challenge: rapidly developing product preservation strategies
Working for a global pioneer in personal care products requires consistently striving for new formulas that ensure both product safety and consumer satisfaction. Utilizing a broad array of preservation techniques is crucial to this mission.
However, the process of developing, implementing, and testing these preservation strategies is very demanding. Especially challenging was conducting microbial challenge tests to ensure product safety on diverse substrates used in product formulations.
“Traditional methods for microbial challenge testing were labour-intensive and time-consuming. There was an urgent need to automate and increase our insight so we could run more tests. With the Reshape Microbiology Platform, we've seen remarkable improvements in our capacity to generate quality data faster while also reducing our consumption of materials, aligning with our commitment to sustainability.”
The solution: Automating challenge tests to meet project targets
A Reshape Platform was implemented for monitoring a wide range of challenge tests across different organism types and product ranges. The system, complete with customized image analysis pipelines, allowed precise tracking of microbial growth and enumeration of bioload in samples.
The advantages were soon apparent:
“The digitalization aspect of the system has been transformational, allowing us to gain deeper insights from video representations of our data, bringing a new level of tangibility to our work. Working in a cloud environment has set us on a new path of collaborating with our manufacturing sites as well, where we can work digitally instead of shipping samples across the country”
The Results: A Step-Change in Preservation R&D
“I would most certainly recommend Reshape as an automation partner. We’ve had a close collaboration from day one, and it has given us a lot of new capabilities we didn’t have before, along with a continuously updated product roadmap increasing the value we derive from the system over time.”
Matt and his team saw substantial improvements after implementation:
- Fully digitalized process enabling:
- Ability to run experiments 7 days a week and manage these projects from anywhere
- Eliminating risk of failed assays due to overgrowth and scheduling conflicts
- Reduction of plastic waste from not having to re-run assays
- Automated documentation of all experiments from start to finish leading to
- Quantification and objective evaluation of all results
- Ability to share and collaborate with other departments and manufacturing sites
- Eliminating need for paper
- Quantitative data for continued process improvement to optimize time to result and incubation time
- Significant productivity gains - 220 hours freed up for high value tasks per month
With the Reshape platform, they managed to not only increase efficiency in the lab but also reduce material use, as well as increasing their ability to design novel preservation strategies that will reduce supply chain waste and keep consumers safe, reinforcing their commitment to being a global leader and a sustainable corporation.
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